The Italian Market, also known as the 9th Street Market, is a historic shopping district along 9th St. in South Phillly featuring open-air produce vendors, small restaurants and specialty food shops. Since the late 19th century, it's been a hub for food businesses run by immigrants, and as a result it’s been described as a “foody wonderland,” a place to try delicacies or source ingredient that might be hard to find elsewhere. As the name implies, the market has a particularly strong association with the Italian American community, which has introduced Philly to some of its favorite foods, including tomato pie (thin-crust pizza), hoagies (subs), and even the famous Philly cheesesteak.
In addition to the open air stands, favorite shops and restaurants here include: Anthony’s Italian Coffee House, 903 S. 9th St.: A favorite for cappuccino and gelato. The Gleaner's Cafe Gallery, 917 S. 9th St.: Café known for fun atmosphere and strong coffee. DiBruno Brothers, 930 S. 9th St.: A deli and specialty food shop known for its imported cheese selection, and especially popular around the holidays. Villa di Roma, 936 S. 9th St.: A non-fancy but beloved Italian restaurant that’s been here since the 1960s. Cannuli House of Pork, 937 S. 9th St.: A meat market and deli specializing in all things pork, including whole roasted pigs. Blue Corn, 940 S. 9th St.: A small gourmet Mexican restaurant. Cardenas Oil & Vinegar Tap Room, 942 S. 9th St.: A collection of exotic and artisanal oils and vinegars in big kettles with taps allowing for samples. Monsu, 901 Christian St.: An upscale, experimental Italian restaurant.
In the late 19th century, many immigrants came to Philadelphia in search of industrial jobs, particularly from Ireland and Italy. Facing housing discrimination, they were relegated to South Philly, which was outside the original city plan. This neighborhood had a particular draw for Italians because of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi Church, the nearby Catholic church founded by early Italian immigrants in the 1850s.
The 9th Street Market was a hub for immigrant food markets throughout the 20th century. In the 1970s, with the rise of supermarkets, businesses here began to decline. Many of those that survived were owned by the Italian American community, and it became known as the “Italian Market.” Since then it’s increasingly been recognized as a Philly landmark, appearing in TV shows and movies such as “Rocky.” In 1995, artist Diane Keller added the mural of Frank L. Rizzo, a former Philly mayor and police commissioner.
Cover image: Derek Ramsey, CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.